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Kelli’s Paleo Pantry Essentials

Living Paleo is no different from living not Paleo. If you get hungry, you walk into your kitchen and take food out of your fridge your freezer or your pantry. You cook it or you nuke it, but the fact is, it’s there to prepare.

You’re going to do better with the Paleo lifestyle change if you have the materials to make that change at hand. This isn’t something you want to do by finding a recipe and going to get the supplies for that recipe, only to do the same for other recipes. You’re going to want a few staples on hand so you can be a little more spontaneous than that.

What is your pantry going to look like? Different from mine. Just because we’re following the same lifestyle does not mean we’re going to do it the same way. You may prefer fish and poultry while I prefer heavier-flavored game meats. You may want to eat a lot of salads while I prefer my veggies sautéed. You may drink tea while I drink coffee.


One of the free resources I offer is a pantry list. It’s very important to have a pantry you can work from. There are a few things that are top-of-the-list important for me, though. These are my Paleo pantry essentials.

Inside My Paleo Fridge

Obviously, you’re going to be shopping for fresh meats, veggies and fruits to eat, but the pantry items on my list are more about preparation and spontaneity. These are things my fridge cannot be without.

Eggs — I eat a LOT of eggs. I always have two in the morning, In the summer, when I’m more likely to eat cold meals, I’ll have two hard-boiled eggs at lunchtime. Believe it or not, eggs are good for you, particularly the yolk, which is full of all kinds of vitamins and the vital nutrient choline. They also can help give your meal staying power so you’re not wanting to nosh unnecessarily.

Salsa — I keep a bottle of mild Pace picante sauce in my fridge for impromptu “chili” which is usually a meat, sweet potatoes, a veggie and “chili stuff,” which, for me, tends to be salsa, peach puree, spices and cayenne. Pace is paleo friendly.

Maple syrup — Real maple syrup is a sweetener for me and I always have some on hand. I cook with it, bake with it and, occasionally, I actually put it over pancakes.

Butter — I know this seems out of place given Paleo’s ban on dairy, but I still use butter daily for cooking. We’re talking about real, unsalted butter, not substitutes. Grass fed is best. Almost all of my pan frying and sauté is done in butter.

Stocking a Paleo Freezer

Your freezer is going to have some meats and veggies in it, but there are a few things you don’t want to miss.

Cauliflower rice — I was skeptical of cauliflower rice when it became popular, but I love it. I use it as…well…rice. I’ve made fried rice, I’ve put it in soups and stews, and I’ve just added it to dished for a little extra texture. It’s great to have in a pinch.

Fruit — I got a wild hair and made a blueberry mocha smoothie. How? I had the materials. Frozen fruit is fantastic to have as part of your stock and smoothies made with frozen fruit don’t need ice to water them down. Keep your favorites on hand.

Chocolate — True dark chocolate is good for you, and sometimes it’s just what you need for that sweet tooth. Dark chocolate bars (70% – 90% cocoa) in the freezer can be a great bonus, and Ghriardelli has a great 60% chocolate chip that’s great for mixing with nuts and fruit for a snack. If you decide you want Paleo chocolate chip cookies or to try your hand at Paleo hot cocoa, having the materials on hand never hurts.

Paleo Pantry Staples

This is the area where I tend to have more stock than anywhere else. I keep cans of olives, jars of fruit purées, boxes of bone broth and nuts. But what is most important to me here is baking supplies.

Flours — True, you’re not supposed to have any grain flours on this eating plan, but there are others. I highly recommend keeping almond flour on hand. Of the alternative flours, I find that it’s the one that behaves the most like regular wheat flour. For those who can’t have tree nuts, coconut flour and cassava flour are also handy. Be aware that if you use some of these flours slowly, they may need to be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Honey — This is another sweetener for me, but I sometimes use it as a topping as well. Bananas with a little honey and cinnamon make a great snack.

Arrowroot starch — Cornstarch is out, so if you like gravies and stews, makes sure you have arrowroot on hand. Tapioca starch also works really well.

Spices — This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how I can stomach such a bland diet. I’m not sure what brand of Paleo they were on, but there is nothing bland about it. I love food with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spices. I’m usually putting a touch (too much) of cayenne in my meals. I eat Garam Masala on my sweet potatoes. There is no reason for this lifestyle to be bland.

Bottled water — Why? Because you should drink about 8 cups (not glasses) of water a day, and that’s about four bottles. They’re handy. Just open one up and drink at your leisure. If you’re someone who knows they don’t drink enough water, this is a great way to get some down.

What’s on My Paleo Shopping List?

Paleo is clean eating. That mean fresh food, not prepackaged with all kinds of preservatives, salts, sugars and grains that you don’t need. I like my veggies sautéed, so I buy leafy greens like spinach, sweet peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli and asparagus. I prefer bacon for breakfast, but ground turkey or chicken with lots of poultry seasoning makes a great substitute sausage. Because I’m single, I can grab packs of breakfast steaks, chicken thighs and fish portions, separate them and freeze them in portions.

But I’m also on the go a lot. I grab Paleo-friendly snacks like GoGoSqeez, Epic bars and Lära bars. If i’m on the road, I always have beef jerky, and Epic makes some great uncured jerkies. I do whatever I need to do to keep from pulling over and hitting McDonalds. Having something handy in the car helps cut back on Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.

Conclusion

Really, when you get down to it, Paleo living looks exactly like non-Paleo living. The ingredients are just a little different. Start slow. Start small. Don’t go whole hog until you know you want the whole hog. Then make sure that your life isn’t disrupted by the fact you’ve just rolled out of bed wanting pancakes, and you don’t have the supplies to make the.

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

Apple Pear Sauce

Some of the little treats Mom and I like are fruit spreads/sauces. They are so sweet and delicious and can be made perfectly Paleo instead of just “practically paleo.” Just like my Pumpkin Apple Butter, which you can find here, this sauce can be eaten on toast, over (shhhhh….) ice cream, on pancakes (Paleo, of course) or just in a dish. The recipe is simple if slightly time consuming with the prep, but the end game is totally worth it.

2 lbs. Gala apples, peeled and cubed
1 lb. ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and cubed
¼- ½ cup unsweetened Gala apple juice

1. Place apples, pears and juice in large sauce or soup pan.

2. Bring to a quick boil.

3. Cover and turn down to simmer. Check and stir occasionally until fruit is soft.

4. Using a potato masher, mash fruit to your desired consistency. If looking for that fine store-bought consistency, wait until fruit is cool and run it through a food processor in batches.

5. Place in jars or other containers and keep refrigerated. This can be served warm or cold.

6. Enjoy.

What’s really incredible about this sauce is that the pears are what provides the sweetening. There are no added sugars of any kind.

The Problems with the Paleo Diet

Let’s be honest. A “diet,” basically without rules? That’s got to be too good to be true. This is just another one of those scams that sucks you in with promises and then disappoints you in the end. Right?

No, it’s not, but let’s face it. Most things that sound too good to be true are. I will be the first to admit there are some problems with the Paleo diet. I would be less and honest if I didn’t. 

It’s Restrictive

Say what? Didn’t we just go through an entire article on how “not restrictive” this diet was? No rules, remember? 

That’s not entirely true. I said there were a few rules. Check it out. Here’s a handy link so you can go back and see for yourself. 

It is a restrictive diet, just not in the same sense most people view restrictive diets. There are things you aren’t supposed to eat if you’re going to live Paleo. Bread, dairy, sugar, legumes. All of them off limits. 

The restrictions is just one of the reasons I don’t recommend going into Paleo cold turkey. You’re giving up a lot. Once you get going, you won’t miss it all that much, but you still have to get past that “giving it up” point. What do you give up first? What is going to be the hardest?

Picture from Wikipedia Commons

The hardest for me was the dairy. Despite the fact I’m allergic to milk, I love cheese, and I have a serious weakness for ice cream. Cheese is one of things that makes me Paleoish, though I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I used to. And, if I walk into a Starbucks and order a latte or mocha, I get it fat free (I still go whole milk with Frappuccinos, and then I can’t breathe for the next two days). I also find that depression is best medicated with a pint of ice cream. If my misery wants an almond milk flavor I’ll get it, but Ben and Jerry’s is a huge pharmacy, and the almond milk selections are too few.

Get rid of one at a time. Get rid of the easiest one. Legumes? How many beans do you really eat? Or is it breads? Whichever it is, get rid of it first. And after you’ve been a week, maybe two, and you’re comfortable with that decision, get rid of the next easiest thing to give up. 

It’s Time Consuming

One of the complaints I have on a fairly regular basis is that it seems like I’m always cooking. Always. Cooking. And, until I can talk myself into being one of those meal prep people, I just don’t see that changing. 

Picture from Wikipedia Commons

When you eat Paleo, the bulk of your diet is fresh foods. As in, they need to be prepared before you can eat them. When I get up in the morning, I cook breakfast. Sometime around 1 p.m., I cook lunch, and I am often simultaneously cooking my dinner. There is a reason for the two meals together. I go to work at 5 p.m., and I need to take something with me. I don’t seem to be as slammed on my days off — yes, I’m still cooking three meals, but I don’t have to cut my day short to get to work. 

If you love to cook, great! I’m pretty ambivilent. But, once in a while, it will occur to me that I cook a lot. 

One of the benefits of this is that you can season your foods or cook them to YOUR preference. What spices? What herbs? How hot? How rare? The world is your oyster, which I hate and don’t eat, cooked or raw (Seriously, what’s up with that?).

It Can Get Expensive

When I was a young wife, I was often encourage to buy in bulk. What I always heard was, “It’s cheaper in the long run.” I hear the same thing about healthy living (of all kinds. We’re not just talking diet here). “Yes, it’s expensive,” they’ll say. “But you’ll be healthier in the long run, and you won’t have health problems when you’re a senior.” That fact doesn’t put money on the budget for groceries. 

A steak and sweet potato is going to cost more than a box of macaroni and cheese. Trout fillets and baby spinach is going to set you back more than Stouffer’s frozen lasagne, and it’s going to feed fewer people. Any time you choose to eat clean and not go with the processed stuff, it’s going to cost you. I’m not going to lie. One of the biggest benefits I have is that I’m single and not trying to feed a family. The fact is, though, there are families that eat this way. It can be done. 

The cost will change the way you eat. One of the things I have done in the way I set up my breakfasts is that I have two proteins. I have whatever meat (bacon, sausage, left-over chicken) and a secondary protein, which would be my eggs. It stays with me longer and I eat less at my other meals. For those who go the whole five or six small meals route, you’ll probably have better luck with eating less food over the course of the day than those of us who do three squares. 

Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but waking up day-to-day and realizing I’m pain-free makes it priceless. 

Why Am I Telling You This?

I know this all seems contrary to what I’ve talked about in my past articles. There’s a reason I’m doing this, though. 

All of my life people have showed me something good, something I wanted or wanted to do. The offering was there, and all the benefits were being echoed back and forth. 

Then there was the moment of truth. No one told me there was great chasm between me and the prize, and all of hell filled it. And here I had the people who talked me into whatever I was going to get or do handing me a Super Soaker and telling me to go for it. That chasm of hell was always the one thing they left out. 

I’m not going to tell you it won’t be hard. For some, it will be harder than others. There will be those who are fireproof. Some will try and fail and try again. That was me. And there will be some who try and fail and decide it’s just not for them. 

It’s Worth It

If a “diet” with no rules sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it is not. I’m letting you know know that you can see it on the other side of this little valley full of sacrifice and inconvenience, and all you have to do is figure out the best way through it. 

Here’s your Super Soaker. 

There Are No Stinkin’ Rules…okay, there’s a few.

The question I’ve been seeing a lot is “What are the Paleo diet rules?” I think it’s a valid question. After all, doesn’t every diet have rules? Aren’t there things you are NOT supposed to eat if you follow a paleo diet?

Well, yes. That’s the short answer. Even with its restriction, Paleo is not very restrictive, and particularly not the way I do it because I am, after all, just “practically Paleo.”

Yes, Paleo has some restrictions, but really, they only set the parameters so you know what it is. After that, there is really not much in the way of rules when it comes to the Paleo lifestyle.

The Rules

Paleo is grain, dairy and sugar free.

There. That’s it. Those are the rules, and even those can be bent to a certain degree.

This is not a “gluten-free” diet, although, just by virtue of the fact you aren’t eating grains you are gluten-free. No, this is grain-free. So, those non-glutenous grains that people eat instead are no-nos. This is hard for us. We, as a pretty agrarian society, eat a lot of bread. We eat a lot of rice. We think corn is a vegetable. You want to see what I’m talking about? Walk into any restaurant and try to order something that does not have grain. It’s not easy. Everything has bread. The salad has croutons. The side dishes are corn. Every breakfast comes with muffins, toast or pancakes. Dinner meats sit on beds of rice pilaf. We use these things as fillers to keep us from getting hungry too soon. It’s everywhere. And by grains, I’m including pseudo and ancient grains like amaranth and quinoa.

Legumes. Say what? Yep. No beans. No peanuts. No lentils. No chickpeas. No soy. There are a few things we call legumes that are okay. Peas. Nuts other than peanuts. It has to do with phytic acid. It’s not that they have it. Other foods permitted by Paleo have phytic acid. In this case, though it has more to do with how the phytic acid in legumes affect the body. That’s why some legumes (sugar snap peas, nut, green beans) are allowed, but most are not.

Dairy is out. Same restaurants. How many cream sauces or gravies are there? Think about how much food we coat in cheese. How much is swimming in butter (We’ll be talking about butter.)? Coffee comes with a side of cream whether you use it or not. We are not a diary-free society. We have even found ways around lactose intolerance. I’m not one of those people who think milk is bad (I’m allergic to it, but that’s totally beside the point), it’s just not Paleo.

If you thought we used a lot of grain and dairy, you haven’t yet considered how much sugar we, as a society, use. I’m talking anything processed — sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, corn syrup — and that includes artificial sweeteners. The best rule of thumb is this: If it’s processed, don’t use it. That doesn’t leave much. Honey. Maple Syrup (The real stuff. Don’t be thinking Aunt Jemimah and Log Cabin). Bananas are a great sweetener.

What’s Left?

What does that leave? Everything else, and that’s a lot. Any meat. Yep, any. Fish, bird, pig, cow, sheep, rabbit, deer, bear, crustacean. I’m not kidding. If it has meat that you can eat, it’s fair game. Is it lean? Eat it. Fatty? Have a ball. Organ rather than muscle meat? Yep, it’a all good.


Then there are vegetables. All of them. Real veggies, I mean (Corn is not a vegetable. See the grain rule). Squash, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, peppers. They’re all good.

Then there are fruits. Yep. Eat them up. Like berries? Have them. Peaches? Go for it. Like munching apples? Have at it.

Eggs are Paleo. Not egg whites. The whole egg. Stop separating them and throwing away the yolks. This is good food!

Nuts. This is one of those things that breaks the legume rule. Nuts are good for you. They make a great snack, and almond flour and almond milk are your friends.

Chocolate. Do I have your attention? Chocolate is good for you, but it’s got to be specific. Good dark chocolate. Not semi-sweet. Dark. The darker the better. I try never to go below 70% cocoa, but I have had chocolate chips that are only 60% cocoa. I tend to hang out around 90% cocoa.

When Do You Eat?

Another short answer. You eat when you’re hungry. Do you like breakfast at 10 a.m. Have it then. Are you hungry two hours later? Great! Eat! Starving? Eat a lot. Not so hungry? Don’t eat so much. The rule here is that you eat when you’re hungry, and you stop eating when you’re full. There is no trying to stuff down a meal or snack when you don’t feel like eating because you have a plan to stick with. There is no starving between meals because it’s not time to eat yet.

People who know me know I like to eat big breakfasts. Not big, HUGE. I may not eat again until 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. That’s okay. It’s just how I do things. But I’ve had days when I’ve gotten up and decided I just wasn’t hungry. I munched down a hard-boiled egg and a banana and went on my merry way. How do I quantify that? How do I keep up with my calories? I don’t. There is no measuring in Paleo unless you’re following a recipe, and there is no counting calories. There is only eating when you’re hungry and not eating when you’re not.

Cheat days? I don’t have them. I eat my Paleo meals and go about my life. Party at work? They’re serving cake? Have a piece. No. Seriously. Have a piece of cake. You haven’t cheated. Don’t forget, this isn’t a diet. When you’ve enjoyed your cake, go back to your regular Paleo lifestyle. There is complete freedom here.

Organically Speaking…

There is a lot of talk about where our food comes from. Should we only be eating organic food? What about GMOs? What if I don’t have a Sprouts or Whole Foods near me?

I shop at Walmart.

My life is topsy-turvy crazy. I have been homeless. I have lived in a hotel. I have worked mostly entry level jobs, and, when I have a decent paycheck, my bills take all my money. I can’t afford organic. I can’t afford Whole Foods. But I can afford Walmart. And with Paleo becoming more and more mainstream, even places like Walmart are carrying Paleo-friendly foods. The fact is, though, if you’re eating just food and not a lot of processing, you can get your food pretty much anywhere.

I may one day be able to shop organic at Whole Foods. The fact I can’t now, though, doesn’t stop me from eating Paleo.

A little bit at a time.

Don’t go home and throw away all the food in your cabinets. Like anything else, you have to ease into this. Some manage it faster than others. As you run out of something, replace the food with good, clean foods and just move forward. There’s no plan. There’s no rules…well, almost no rules.

Just live.

Jimmy’s Cookies

I’m always looking for noshy, munchy things, and I found these cookies while I was shopping at Walmart one day. They were in the freezer section with the gluten-free and paleo foods, and I was instantly intrigued, thought it took me a while to try them. There are, to the best of my knowledge, two varieties — Chocolate Chunk, pictured here, which are pretty much just chocolate chunk cookies, and Pecan Chocolate Chunk. They are both very tasty.

There are a few cons with this product. One is that they are expensive. A tub of 18 costs $9 at Walmart. The second is that they stay frozen and have to sit out for an hour before you can eat them.

There are a few pros with this product. One is that they are expensive. A tub of 18 costs $9 at Walmart. The second is that they stay frozen and have to sit out for an hour before you can eat them.

Yeah, I know the pros look exactly like the cons, but the fact is, at that price, I’m not going to sit and eat the entire tub, and with the need to thaw them, I’m not going to eat them impulsively.

These are great for stashing in your freezer for a rainy day. You just take two out and put them on a plate while you make yourself a nice bowl of soup. Then, after lunch, you can make a cup of tea and have your cookies.

Starting the “It’s Not a Diet” Change

Okay, maybe it’s a diet in the most scientific use of the word. It’s the word you look up when you find a baby bird and need to know how to feed it. What is the bird’s diet? In the world of Paleo, diet falls under that same heading. This is the way our ancestors ate. They weren’t trying to lose weight, they were trying to survive, and they did it with the resources they had. When we talk about primal and Paleo diets, we’re taking the idea of the original diet all the way back to the cavemen. Yes, their diet would differ by region and resources, but the idea is still the same. Paleo is not a diet in the modern sense of the term. It is a lifestyle, and it can be very hard to change lifestyles.

Start Slow

When I was first told I needed to adopt a Paleo diet for my osteoarthritis, I went whole hog even though I didn’t know, really, what I was getting into. I thought it would be easy. After all, I had already dropped (or mostly dropped) two of the three Paleo restrictions. I am allergic to lactose, so I had already stopped drinking milk, and I had stopped buying bread when I lived in a shelter because I didn’t have a place to hide if from my hyperactive kitten who loved crinkly bags and would tear open my bread bags. Certainly I could just drop the refined sugar, and I would be on my way to a healthier, pain-free me. I didn’t bother reading anything about the lifestyle. I totally had this.

Except I didn’t. Inside of two weeks, I was miserable. I had no energy. I learned that bread-free and grain-free are two different things. I learned that, as a nation, we put grain and cheese on, literally, everything. And we put sugar even in things that don’t need sugar. I couldn’t figure out where my energy was supposed to come from. And, while I understood that I was supposed to be making a lifestyle change, I was treating it like a diet.

Forget Low Fat

One of the hallmarks of the American weight loss diet is low-fat food. It is so ingrained in our thinking, that the minute we suggest a change in the way we eat we subconsciously start thinking of ways to cut the fat. I was no exception. When I followed up with my doctor and told her the problems I was having, particularly with energy, she had me give a rundown of what I was eating. I explained everything from drinking water to eating salads to trimming fat. She stopped me there and asked why I was trimming the fat from meat. What she told me next changed the course of my diet (ahem…lifestyle change.).

“Do you really think the cavemen trimmed their steaks before they ate them”

I was essentially trimming the energy I needed from my food and throwing it away. Then I spent the days complaining that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I don’t trim my meat. I eat bacon. I don’t limit myself to egg whites. And, while Paleo is a non-dairy diet, I do cook in butter (I did mention only practically Paleo, right?).

Stop Drinking Your Calories

This is actually a big one, and certainly was for me. I drank a lot of soda. I drank a lot of Starbucks. I drank a lot of juices. Now, unless the drink is a very specific part of my meal, I only drink water, black coffee or tea. While that doesn’t seem all that interesting, that’s just my day-to-day hydration. There are times that I will forgo a piece of fruit for a smoothie or cup of juice. Once in a while, I’ll decide to spoil myself with a non-fat latte. Or, if I feel like I want a soda, I’ll grab and Izze (Check out what I have to say about those here.) Honestly, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

Stop Counting Calories

Stop. Just don’t. And stop measuring things unless you’re making a specific recipe. Eat when you’re hungry, just make sure it’s not dairy, grain or sugar. When I get up and have breakfast, it goes something like this:

“I’m hungry, what’s to eat? I’ll have a couple of eggs, and look! Bacon! I’ll have a few strips of that. I think I’ll sauté some zuchini and have an orange, too.”

I’ll cook that all and have a cup of coffee with it. How much do I eat? As much as it takes for me to not be hungry. Some mornings that’s a breakfast steak, a sweet potato, two eggs and a banana. Other days it’s a hard-boiled egg and a tangerine. Some days I won’t have lunch until nearly 2 p.m., other days I’ll be snacking all day on fruit, nuts, veggies and beef jerky. There is no specified time to eat. There are no hard and fast rules. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not, don’t. It’s as easy as that.

Baby Steps

No lifestyle change is going to work if you stop the old one cold turkey and make an abrupt change. Don’t throw out the dairy, grain and sugar and expect to suddenly be Paleo. You’ll be setting yourself up to fail. Years of habits can’t be broken overnight There needs to be creation of entirely new habits and that takes time, 30 days, according to some experts. Start slowly and feel yourself out. How is this lifestyle going to work best for you. If you are someone that just HAS to have hard and fast rules, take those 30 days to make those rules that you want to stick to. There’s no need for detoxes or cleanses to start. Just slowly replace processed foods with clean foods. Slowly change habit into better habits. Making a decision is one thing. Implementing it can be a whole different animal. Don’t just grab it by the horns. It’s easier to sneak up on it first.

Benefits of a Paleo Lifestyle

No one likes going on a diet, yet somehow, we’re always doing it. Resolutions are constantly being made and broken. Weight is being lost and then gained back. A good day on a new diet often results in a sugar and carbohydrate binge the next day. There is something we are doing wrong, and diet gurus are getting rich off our misery as we struggle to reach what seems to be an unattainable goal. And reaching that goal can be worse. Reaching the goal means tying yourself to a maintenence diet for the rest of your life. One of the benefits of a Paleo lifestyle, though, is that it is not a diet. 

Not a Diet

Paleo is a lfestyle. This is not a situation in which you follow a regimented plan, add steps as you are told and get to an end. So many of these situations end with weight regained. Once you’ve reached your goal, you go back to eating the way you had before, and you gain all that weight back. Or perhaps the diet you never lose the weight. Perhaps the diet is just not right for the way your body works. Or perhaps it’s so restrictive you just can’t stay with it. How often are you going to run through that cycle before you give up? 

I am a child of the ’80s, and we dieted. It’s just what we did whether we needed to or not. I remember that my mother and my sister went on a day that was so restrictive that they were only two days into it and my sister was in tears. She wanted food she could taste. She wanted to eat enough she didn’t feel like she was starving. She wanted to eat meals with eveyone else and not feel like she had to hide so she didn’t see us enjoying our meals. That’s not to say you don’t give things up for Paleo lifestyle, but you certainly don’t deprive yourself. 

It’s Not Tasteless, It’s Clean

Another benefit of the Paleo lifestyle is that it’s just good clean eating. There is nothing anywhere that says it has to be bland and tasteless. There is also nothing anywhere that suggests food has to be spicy to hide the fact the food just isn’t good. When I first told one of my customers that I was going Paleo, her first comment was, “I feel sorry for you. I’d rather eat food that tastes good.” The crazy thing is that I’d had a steak, a baked sweet potato and a salad for dinner and nothing there was tasteless. 

Clean just means it’s real — okay, some people do take the term “clean” further than that, but, really, we’re just talking about real food. A steak under the broiler, a salad of real food items. A potato, an apple, a handful of pecans. Nothing I’ve just mentioned is tasteless. And the fact I’m going to broil that steak with onion, garlic and maybe some sage guarantees I’m not eating anything bland. What I’m not doing is opening a box of prepackaged food and throwing it in the microwave.

It’s an Anti-inflamatory and Autoimmune Protocol Eating Plan

The biggest benefit I have gained from my Paleo lifestyle is the loss of pain. My doctor recommended the “diet” (a word she used with the most scientific of meanings) to help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis. The things I was eating before — the breads and muffins and refined sugars — was causing the inflamation that caused my pain. Removing those things from my diet would help, at the early stage at which we caught my disease, keep me from daily medications. People with autoimmune deficiencies also benefit from a Paleo lifesyle. Those with diseases like Rhumatoid Disease, Lupis, HIV and AIDS, for example, benefit from this lifestyle for the very same reason I benefit with my osteoarthritis. The clean eating removes inflamation and pain and other issues caused by autoimmune problems.

It’s Vitamin Rich

Everything in our lives tells us we can’t possibly get all the vitamins we need by just eating food. That’s not true with a Paleo lifestyle. The foods are vitamin rich. I was told I needed extra calcium due to my osteoarthritis, not by my doctor, but by every other thing I read on the disease when I was diagnosed. So, imagine my surprise when I ended up in the emergency room with a calcium-based kidney stone. Why? I was taking too much calcium. With almond-based flours and milks, spinach and citrus, I was actually getting all the calcium I needed from my food. Instead of a finger dish full of vitamins every morning, I take only two in addition to my regular mutivitamin. A Paleo lifestyle can, indeed, provide you with all the vitamins you need. 

The Lifestyle is the Benefit

I mentioned before that the Paleo lifestyle is not a diet. It’s not a set of crazy rules and preset meals. Yes, there are going to be some restrictions, but, in a perfect world, they are restrictions we would already have been making. Paleo is fresh and real. Does it take a little more work? Yes. Is it going to take some practice? Yes. But at the “end” of this race toward a goal, there is no maintenance plan. There is no fear of stepping out of a restrictive regimen and regaining weight. The biggest benefit to Paleo is that it is a lifestyle that can be lived by the individual’s needs. There is no portioning, no fat trimming, no measuring, no watering down. Paleo is stepping away from the world of processed foods and eating food the way we were meant to eat it.

 

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate

When I was young, I would have told you that I’ve always liked dark chocolate. Now, of course, I know the difference between Hershey’s Special Dark and good dark chocolate.

Chocolate is important to me. It has some great health benefits and yes, it’s Paleo, if you use it right. The darker the chocolate is, the better, and I’ve had 100% cocoa. I usually have my chocolate at bedtime with a little black coffee, kind of a non-alcoholic nightcap. This is not something where I sit and eat the entire bar. I have a square. Usually, I buy the bag of Ghirardelli squares so eating one at a time is simple.

I find that a square of dark chocolate is all I need, and I love Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark line for the flavors I can get. A lot of other companies pair their flavors with semi-sweet chocolate and ruin the value of the dark chocolate altogether. These bars, though, come in raspberry, cherry, sea salt, and my personal favorite, Cabernet, which has blackberry and blueberry undertones. The chocolates are very rich, and I don’t feel like I’m short changing myself on a “diet” rather than enjoying something I’m allowed to eat.

GoGo Squeez

Another favorite that comes from my homeless days is GoGo Squeez by Materne North American Corp. These are little applesauce pouches that are designed to appeal to kids and are perfect for lunch boxes. They’re a great mix of applesauce, a veggie (sweet potato and carrots are the most common, but there is also one with butternut squash) and a second fruit like peach, pear, mango, banana, strawberry, etc. You can see the entire lineup here.

I was concerned about being able to get things like fruits and veggies that would keep if I was living in my car with no room for a cooler. Canned fruit is inconvenient and full of sugar, but these pouches are all natural, 100% fruits and veggies with no added sugars. I could pick them up at Walmart for a song, and I’d get them three or four boxes at a time so I had a variety to choose from. Even after I finding a place to live, I carry these to work to have on a long shift or if my BG level drops. The lid makes them great to carry, because you can close it and don’t have to eat it all at once. There are other versions of this in the canned fruit aisle and the baby food aisle, but GoGoSqueez remains my favorite for both taste and cost. And, FYI, the Boatin’ Banana, left in the trunk of the car on a mild winter day, makes a great half-frozen treat. Not that you’d ever find yourself in the position, but, just saying’…

Sautéed Tomato and Olive Câpres

Although it is not Paleo, I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella. I buy it in pearls or ciliegine. and just create something, throwing together a few things I think might sound good (meat, veggie, egg and fruit) and then mixing it with an equally appropriate dressing. On a whim, and looking for something new, I threw this together, just winging as I went. It was really quite tasty.

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced into disks.
1/2 cup black olives, sliced length-wise.
1 1/2 cups mozzarella ciliegine, cut in half
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Tessemae’s Honey Basalmic dressing
Parsley, black pepper, onion powder, celery flakes and basil to taste

1. Heat olive oil, black pepper and onion powder in small sauté pan.

2. Add tomatoes and toss in the olive oil. Sauté until two minutes and then add olives.

3. Mix olives with tomatoes well and let sit on low heat while preparing cheese.

4. Place cheese in a small serving dish and add spices to taste. Drizzle with dressing. Mix well.

5. Add tomatoes and olives to cheese in dish and mix to coat evenly.

6. Enjoy

​Makes 1 serving.

The Tessame’s dressing can be found at most stores in the produce section.